Michael Jackson Questions

Essay exam. Choose any two to write on.

Why does one’s ethnicity so strongly shape one’s opinion about whether or not he was guilty of child abuse?

With so much countervailing evidence, why do people seemingly assume there’s a correlation between fame and character?

How is it that MJ was by most accounts a brilliant businessman, especially for an entertainer, but has also been described as terrible at managing his personal finances?

Why isn’t Joe Jackson’s influence on MJ more central to the discussion of MJ’s eccentricities and alleged criminal activities?

How does a 12 year old sing and dance like MJ did in 1970? 

What is it about Jackson that makes so many 40 and 50-somethings nostalgic for their childhoods?

If fame corrupts, does absolute fame corrupt absolutely? 

What makes us think we know celebrities like MJ?

Since all we really have an inkling of is their public persona, what makes us think there’s a personal connection? 

How come I can’t moonwalk?

1 thought on “Michael Jackson Questions

  1. In 1993 when Michael Jackson faced allegations of child abuse for the first time, he was still at the height of his powers—albeit a step or two slower, a wattage dimmer—and his eccentricities were considered the charming if inexplicable motifs of a global megastar. Perhaps due to the scale and international flavor of his celebrity, the public was initially willing to separate the man from the charges which in and of themselves were rather horrifying, and what emerged was a colorful potpourri of people (including his fellow jet set friends) who coalesced about him and gave him the benefit of the doubt—at least until s*** hit the fan.

    However, ten years later in 2003, when the second round of child abuse allegations came thundering down, it seemed things were different: of his celebrity friends, those who voiced their support were mostly black. The same dichotomy was reflected amongst the pundits who filled the airwaves as well as in the general population. Granted, the geography of the entertainment industry had changed and Jackson was no longer the biggest pop act of all time—questions still lingered regarding the ’93 allegations (why did he pay the boy off?) and his reputation was almost at sewer-level; his public persona had turned from odd to bizarre, disenchanting many and drawing the ire of all but the most die-hard of his fans—but I was still struck by the fact the battle lines were drawn along racial lines.

    I think unfortunately the spectre of a black man caught with his hand in a cookie jar still flits all too strongly through the larger consciousness. And as people, we’re elemental. Despite our sophistication, we are primitive and reactive. We are in a rush to make judgment, even quicker to cast aspersions. We are mistrustful of strangers, or anything that’s different from what we’re used to. And after the dust settles, it’s to those we’re familiar with that we run back to. Ironically, since separation in all things seems to be the order of the day, finally we fragment even from those things we love—as witnessed by the breakdown of countless marriages, families and the community at large. Further, as a black guy, I can attest to the fact racism exists both within and without the black community.

    But back to the bigger picture again. All whites thought OJ Simpson was guilty back in ’95 while most blacks felt he was innocent (even when they knew otherwise). Barack Obama stumbled across the finish line during his primary campaign against Hilary Clinton, even when his mistakes were few and far between at least when compared to his opponent. Eric Holder blurts out that in America the races still voluntarily segregate from each other. So as regarding Jackson and why ethnicity was important in how people saw his guilt or innocence, you get the idea. It’s the cliche all over again—racism.

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